As an offering to commemorate Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 100th birthday, the SSSIO-USA is undertaking a bold initiative to plant one million trees all over the United States. Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Greater St. Louis, Missouri, are putting their faith into action by participating in environmental care programs that align with this initiative by volunteering with two local non-profit organizations - Forest ReLeaf of Missouri and Great Rivers Greenways.

Forest ReLeaf focuses on planting and maintaining a healthy tree canopy across Missouri, while Great Rivers Greenways creates a network of green spaces for the St. Louis community. Both organizations rely on volunteers to achieve their goals.

March Events: Mulching and Planting Trees

On March 2, 2024, a group of 35 Sai volunteers, including 15 students from the Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) program, participated in a mulching project at North Riverfront Park. The event coordinators emphasized the importance of not just planting trees, but also caring for them in their early years through mulching, watering, and maintenance. After a demonstration on proper mulching techniques, the volunteers got to work with enthusiasm. Some used wheelbarrows to transport mulch, while others cleaned up debris and spread fresh mulch around the trees.

The spring continued with another service opportunity on March 30 at Creve Coeur Park. Here, a smaller group of nine Sai volunteer planted and mulched 50 new trees. The project took roughly two hours, but as one volunteer reflected, “in a few years, we will see the saplings grow into trees and contribute to a healthier environment.” Moreover, they learned valuable techniques and the importance of proper tree care.

Reflections from Participants

The Sai volunteers, especially the SSE students, enjoyed the tree planting and mulching projects. One student remarked, "Planting trees with friends was a lot of fun! I'm eager to participate in more projects that help improve air quality and reduce pollution." Another student shared: "Using wheelbarrows and working together to reach the mulch pile was a blast! We even had a friendly competition to see who could rake the most! The park service provided delicious snacks, and overall, it was a huge success. We surpassed our goal of mulching 100 trees, and everyone enjoyed interacting and contributing to the growth of these new trees."

An adult Sai Center leader offered a more philosophical perspective: "Being outdoors and working with nature reminds me of how we are interconnected with all living things. By caring for trees, we acknowledge our symbiotic relationship with the environment and commit to being responsible stewards of the Earth. It's truly awe-inspiring to witness the transformation of a tiny seed into a magnificent tree."

Looking Ahead: Continued Commitment

The Sai Center members are committed to ongoing participation in environmental service projects. These efforts contribute to the SAI 100 initiatives, which promote service to humanity, spiritual growth, and care for all living beings, including nature, seen as "the vesture of God."